Tim Cook says Apple is making face shields for COVID-19 medical workers


The number of face shields Apple plans to ship every week to help fight the coronavirus.

Taylor Hill/WireImage/Getty Images

Big tech is stepping in to help fight the coronavirus. On Sunday, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared the latest on the company's efforts to aid medical workers who are risking their lives to help care for victims of COVID-19.

In a tweet, Cook, working from home, says Apple has "sourced over 20M masks through our supply chain." Additionally, he says Apple "launched a company-wide effort, bringing together product designers, engineering, operations, and packaging teams, and our suppliers, to design, produce, and ship face shields for health workers."

Cook says the face shields "pack flat — 100 to a box" and that each one "assembles in less than two minutes and is fully adjustable."

"We're sourcing materials and manufacturing in the U.S. and China," says Cook. "We plan to ship over 1 million by the end of this week and over 1 million per week after that."

Cook says the first shipment of shields was "delivered to Kaiser hospital facilities in the Santa Clara Valley this past week and the feedback from doctors was very positive."

On a support page, Apple details the three-piece design and explains how to assemble the face shields:

The Apple-designed face shields are made of three pieces: the forehead band, face shield, and a latex-free silicone strap.Apple
Here you can see how the strap can be adjusted.Apple

Emergency help — As the coronavirus pandemic continues to claim lives — there are now over 1.2 million confirmed cases with over 70,000 deaths worldwide — it's crucial for companies like Apple that have deep access to the global supply chain to step up and help in whatever ways possible.

Apple isn't alone in this effort. Dyson said it planned to manufacture 15,000 ventilators. Automobile giants GM and Ford also pledged to make ventilators.

And despite at first saying the "coronavirus panic is dumb," Musk has now done a complete 180 as it's apparent that the seriousness of the virus is not at all stupid or a hoax as Trump described it in February.

Last month, he said Tesla's New York gigafactory, which makes batteries, "would reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible. We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York."

Why isn't Apple making ventilators? — Simply put: the company doesn't own factories like Tesla or GM that are capable of producing these life-saving machines.

"Our focus is on unique ways Apple can help, meeting essential needs of caregivers urgently and at a scale the circumstances require," says Cook. "We are closely coordinating with medical professionals and government officials across the U.S. to get these to where they're needed most urgently. We hope to quickly expand distribution beyond the U.S.

While face masks and shields may not seem as critical compared to ventilators, they are valuable to front-line workers, who are putting themselves in constant exposure to the virus. Though surgical and cloth masks aren't as effective as non-N95 masks, the CDC has updated its guidelines, recommending everyone wear them when outside in addition to social distancing.

Update: Added information from Apple's support site on how to assemble the face shields.